Daily Highlights: 18 June 2018

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Highlights:

  1. PM says he had good exchange of ideas with Jack Ma
  2. Alibaba committed to empower small businesses, announces Malaysia Week to promote over 50 Malaysian brands in China
  3. At least 3 killed, 200 injured as strong quake hits Osaka
  4. Moody’s has stable outlook for Malaysian banks
  5. FMM hopes governmentt will maintain current electricity tariff
  6. Singapore exports in May exceeds forecasts
  7. PREPD set to launch with more than $500,000 seed funding

Tun Mahathir and Jack Ma had good exchange of ideas
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he had a good exchange of ideas on various subjects with Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman Jack Ma in Putrajaya. Tun Dr Mahathir disclosed this in a post uploaded on his official Twitter account, saying “we had a good exchange of ideas on a wide range of subjects”. Ma is in Malaysia as he is scheduled to open an Alibaba office in Bangsar South today. Speaking after the meeting, Ma hails Dr Mahathir for his knowledge on technology. He said that during the one-hour meeting, they shared a lot of ideas and discussed how to lift more Malaysians out of poverty and support more young people and small businesses. “It was a very good meeting,” said Ma. He added that Alibaba Group’s efforts to undertake an intensive transfer of technology and skills to Malaysia are aligned with Tun Dr Mahathir’s hopes for the Malaysian economy to transit into high-income status quickly. Ma was in Kuala Lumpur last year to launch the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) designed to promote the growth of e-commerce by providing a state-of-the-art platform for SMEs and enterprises to conduct their businesses and services. Ma had reportedly met with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng over an informal dinner last night.

At the opening of its first Southeast Asian headquarters at Bangsar South this afternoon, Ma said Alibaba Group is committed to empower small businesses and young Malaysians with the opening of its office in Malaysia. He also announced that it will be holding “Malaysian Week” on its website from 6-12 July to promote Malaysian products in China. The initiative is expected to feature over 50 Malaysian brands.

At least 3 killed, 200 injured as strong quake hits Osaka
At least three people were killed and more than 200 injured after a strong quake rocked Osaka in western Japan during the morning rush hour today. The quake, which hit just before 8 am local time, killed three people, including a nine-year-old girl. It also halted factory lines and burst water mains, government officials and public broadcaster NHK said. More than 200 people were also injured in the 5.3-magnitude quake, which according to the United States Geological Survey, struck at a depth of 15.4km. The Japanese meteorological agency originally put the quake’s magnitude at 5.9 but later raised it to 6.1. The epicentre of the earthquake was in the northern part of the prefecture at a depth of 13km, the agency said. No tsunami warning was issued. The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it had detected no problems at its local atomic power plants, but some companies, including Honda, said they had suspended operations at local plants. Kansai Electric said on its website that around 170,000 homes in the Osaka region were without power.

Moody’s has stable outlook for Malaysian banks
Moody’s Investors Service says the outlook for Malaysia’s banking system is stable (A3 stable) over the next 12-18 months, while supported by robust macroeconomic conditions, within and outside the country. Moody’s Vice President and Senior Analyst, Simon Chen said that such an environment is favourable to Malaysian banks, while helping stabilise asset quality and profitability. He said in a statement today that at the same time, faster loans growth would be seen, remaining at a pace that was slower than the profit retention of the banks, leading to stronger capital buffers. Moody’s conclusions are contained in its just-released report on Malaysian banks titled, “Robust Macro Conditions and Improving Capitalisation Support Stable Outlook,” and authored by Chen. The stable outlook is based on Moody’s assessment of six drivers, namely operating environment (stable), asset quality (stable), capital (improving), funding and liquidity (stable), profitability and efficiency (stable) and government support (stable).

FMM hopes governmentt will maintain current electricity tariff
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) is hopeful that the government would maintain the current electricity tariff rates in Peninsular Malaysia until 2020. The average effective tariff of natural gas for non-power users, including the manufacturing sector, will be increased from July 1, 2018 to RM32.69 per mmBtu from RM32.52 per mmBtu currently. “While FMM is steadfast in its commitment towards energy subsidy rationalisation and although the 0.5 per cent increase is lower than the previous period’s 22.97 per cent, it is nevertheless still an increase in energy costs,” it said in a statement. Considering that the new surcharge at RM0.77 per mmBtu is much lower, that is, only 48 per cent of the previous period’s surcharge of RM1.62 per mmBtu and that numerous concurrent cost increases have already been imposed on businesses, the federation strongly urged the new government to maintain current electricity tariff rates, which would help to relieve the energy cost burden on the manufacturing sector as well as to benefit the people as household consumers.

Singapore exports jump 15.5% in May, well above forecasts
Singapore’s exports grew at their fastest pace in seven months in May, thanks to a continued surge in pharmaceutical exports. Data from the trade agency Enterprise Singapore showed that non-oil domestic exports (NODX) rose 15.5 per cent in May from a year earlier, accelerating from an 11.8 per cent surge the month before. This was significantly better than the 4.7 per cent increase predicted by economists in a Reuters poll. A global exports boom benefited Singapore and other trade-dependent Asian economies last year, particularly for makers of electronics products and components such as semiconductors, though analysts say the sector’s growth is past is peak.

Revolutionary sports hydration beverage PREPD set to launch with more than $500,000 seed funding
Flinders University start-up Preserve Health has raised more than $500,000 in seed capital from angel investors and high net-worth individuals, including active investors with experience within the sports and beverage industries. The seed round will be used to fund the market launch of PREPD – a new range of hydration-boosting drinks set to revolutionise endurance sports performance. PREPD is backed by more than 20 years of ground-breaking medical research, which originally focussed on improving severe dehydration in children living in developing countries. Early development for PREPD was supported by a South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund grant from TechInSA, the SA State Government’s start-up support agency. TechInSA Chief Executive Mr Joe Thorp says: “Preserve Health’s recent seed funding round is a great achievement for an innovative startup in the beverage industry, based right here in Adelaide. “Their success also highlights the value of early commercialisation funding to bridge the gap between the research lab and the marketplace as a catalyst for further private investment to grow new high tech companies in South Australia,” Mr Thorp says. Flinders University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Robert Saint, says: “Preserve Health’s seed capital raise is a fantastic success story for the translation of cutting-edge research into community benefit and demonstrates Flinders University’s ability to build lasting industry partnerships to drive business innovation.”

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